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Cosplay at Tokyo Big Sight

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Tokyo Big Sight is an exhibition hall which opened on Odaiba in 1996. In addition to its strange name, the complex is known for its radical architecture: four interlocking, upside-down, titanium pyramids. We approached against a tide of anime fans, all of whom were going the opposite way. A convention called Comic City had wrapped up for the day, but we noticed that the crowd was made up almost entirely of women — this convention had been dedicated to manga written for the female market. There were guys here, too, but they were all photographers hoping to get portraits of the cosplay girls. We joined in.

Location of Tokyo Bigh Sight on our Tokyo map

Sailormoon Cosplay Costume

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June 19, 2014 at 10:22 am Comments (2)

Other Sights of Odaiba Island

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There’s so much to do on Odaiba, you could never hope to see it all in a single day. Even if the attractions aren’t always impressive on an individual basis (and many are simply malls), the very fact that such a large section of Tokyo has been given over to leisure and shopping is amazing. We’ve written quite a bit about Odaiba already, but here are some other sights which warrant mention.

If you’re into the Mobile Suit Gundam series, you might want to put on diapers before visiting Diver City. Because stationed in front of this mall is something which could make you wet your pants: a full-scale 1:1 Gundam figure, eighteen meters in height. This is part of the Gundam Front museum found on the mall’s top floor. The museum’s entrance fee of ¥1000 is too expensive for those who aren’t already fans, but the Gundam Cafe on the ground floor is free, as is the museum shop where you can buy plastic models to put together yourself. [Location]

One morning, Jürgen asked me to meet him in the church plaza, where he was enjoying the sunset with a glass of wine. Hmmm, a sunset in the morning, and there aren’t exactly a lot of church plazas in Tokyo. So I figured he must be calling from Venice. Or at least, Tokyo’s version of it. The Venus Fort mall is a Vegas-like attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the Floating City. It’s as delightfully horrible as it sounds. [Location]

Until the opening of the London Eye, Odiaba’s 115-meter Daikanransha Ferris Wheel was the tallest in the world. The wheel can be seen from across Tokyo and makes a lovely sight in the evening, when it bursts into color. Although we had planned to take a ride, we were distracted by the giant arcade found at the foot of the Diakanransha and opted to instead spend our money on a few rounds of Mario Kart. Maybe not the best decision, but one I would probably make again. [Location]

Venus Fort, Daikanransha and the arcade are part of an entertainment complex known as Palette Town, which also is home to the Toyota Mega Web. Both a showcase for Japan’s largest manufacturer and a theme park, Mega Web is a must-see for anyone into cars. There are attractions like a rollicking moving theater, and you can test-drive some of Toyota’s newest models. Also impressive is the History Garage, which showcases a number of old models from various manufacturers. [Location]

Has your whiny brat of a kid been misbehaving? Then cancel the excursion to the Miraikan and take her to Odaiba’s Sewage Museum. We visited, hoping to discover one of those museums so weird that they manage to be awesome, but it wasn’t so in this case. The Sewage Museum is aimed at small children and it’s dreadfully boring. The subject of waste, and especially waste management in Tokyo, is potentially fascinating… just think of the crazy exhibits possible with such stinky material! But the museum can’t be recommended, unless you have a kid who needs to be punished. [Location]

Odaiba Island Tokyo

We usually reached Odaiba with the elevated monorail, but a more romantic method of transportation is offered by the Water Bus. You can board at Asakusa, and then take a leisurely hour-long boat ride down the Sumida River until arriving at the beach. [Location: Asakusa Departure]

Own Your Very Own Giant Gundam

More Pictures from Gundam Front
More Pictures from Venus Fort
More Pictures from Palette Town
More Pictures from Toyota Mega Web
More Pictures from the History Garage
More Pictures from the Sewage Museum
More Pictures from the Ferry To Odaiba Island
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June 19, 2014 at 9:23 am Comments (2)

Look at You! You Think You’re Ready for Harajuku!

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We knew it was going to be crazy. We’d seen pictures! We had read online accounts and talked to people who’d been there. Sure, Harajuku was going to be nuts, especially on the shopping street of Takeshita-dori, but we were ready. I mean, this is still Earth, people are people, and a crowd is a crowd. Am I right? It can’t be anything we haven’t seen a million times before.

Takeshita-Dori Harajuku

And then it was Sunday and we were standing at the top of Takeshita-dori, next to the entrance to the Meiji Shrine, looking down on a scene of absolute madness. In fact, this was nothing like anything we’d ever seen before. Why would so many people choose to congregate right here? Why does everyone need to shop at these stores, simultaneously? No, I’d never witnessed a crowd like this, and certainly not one with people clad in such bizarre fashion.

Once we manned up and dove into its midst, the crowd was less intimidating. It’s annoying to be jostled to and fro, but it’s significantly less annoying when the people jostling you are dressed as Vampire-Lolitas. Yes, you shoulder-checked me, but I see you are a Giggle-Kitten-Neon-Baby or whatever, so I suppose that’s fine. You could probably knee me in the groin, and I’d find it cute.

Well, further written description is pointless, as I’m sure that photos can better convey the ridiculousness of Harajuku on a Sunday. Both an absolute nightmare and an absolute blast.

Location of Takeshita-Dori on our Map

The Ultimate Tokyo Pop Culture Online Store!!!!

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May 8, 2014 at 9:49 am Comments (6)

A Perfectly Normal Day in Yoyogi Park

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It’s hard to say exactly when Tokyo started to frighten me, but it was probably during our visit to Yoyogi Park. While watching Japanese rockabillies bounce-step to Joan Jett, I moved out of the way for a couple dressed in… let’s call it “Victorian Gothic Steampunk, Pastels Version.” And that’s when it hit home: something’s not quite right in this city.

Yoyogi Park Tokyo

I’m from the American Midwest, where brightly-colored shoelaces are a rebellious act of fashion outrage. While I can respect the eccentric style of others, I’ve never had the slightest desire to dress myself in weird clothes. But in Yoyogi Park, for the first time ever, I felt a spark of jealousy for the world’s fashion misfits. Is it “ridiculous” to walk around in public dressed like a cutesy-pie french maid? Or is it ridiculously awesome?

And then I imagined what I’d look like waltzing around as a french maid. No, some things are better left to the Japanese.

We had a blast in Yoyogi Park, which seems to be where the city’s fashion freaks congregate for the weekend. There was so much going on here, so many odd sights, such as groups of pop-idol wannabes practicing, dogs dressed up as crocodiles, badminton battles, picnics with pyramids of empty beer cans, cool guys with dreadlocks tapping bongos, and an honest-to-god, rough-and-tumble group of head-banging Japanese rockabillies.

Yoyogi, one of Tokyo’s biggest parks, was originally used as training grounds for the army. After WWII, it provided accommodation space for the US military and was given the nickname “Washington Heights.” In 1964, the park served as the site of the Olympic Village. Adjacent is the Yoyogi National Stadium, built for the Olympics, with its distinctive suspended roof. When we walked by, youngsters were streaming into the stadium to attend a concert for Androp, a popular (and pretty awesome) Japanese alternative rock band.

Go on the weekend, pack a blanket and a bento box, make sure your camera is charged, and prepare yourself for some insanity. Yoyogi is one of the strangest parks you’ll likely ever see.

Location on our Map

Our Apartment In Tokyo

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April 23, 2014 at 9:39 am Comments (4)
Cosplay at Tokyo Big Sight Tokyo Big Sight is an exhibition hall which opened on Odaiba in 1996. In addition to its strange name, the complex is known for its radical architecture: four interlocking, upside-down, titanium pyramids. We approached against a tide of anime fans, all of whom were going the opposite way. A convention called Comic City had wrapped up for the day, but we noticed that the crowd was made up almost entirely of women -- this convention had been dedicated to manga written for the female market. There were guys here, too, but they were all photographers hoping to get portraits of the cosplay girls. We joined in.
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